How to roast a turkey is an easy recipe for beginners that want to cook a whole turkey in a roasting pan with a homemade rack for Thanksgiving. It shows you what herbs are best for seasoning a bird so your unstuffed turkey comes out moist when cooked in your kitchen oven.
For the Turkey
- 14-pound turkey, fully thawed
- 2 tablespoons salted butter, softened
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups chicken broth
For the Aromatics
- 2 carrots, cut in 1 1/2 chunks
- 1 onion, cut in quarters
- handful of celery leaves
- Allow 3-4 days for it to defrost in the refrigerator.
- Take the thawed bird out of the fridge so it can warm up to room temperature. This can take 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Remove the neck, giblets (heart, liver, gizzard) and possibly a gravy bag from the body or neck cavity. You can throw them out or keep them for giblet gravy or giblet stuffing.
- Clean it inside and out by rinsing it with cold water.
- Place it breast side up on a baking tray and pat the cavity and outside dry with paper towels.
- If you don't have a roasting rack, make your own with foil. Take a long sheet of aluminum foil and roll it up tightly from one of its long sides to make a snake. Cut two more sheets of foil and wrap them tightly around the snake to make a firm rope. The snake needs to be able to support a 14-pound turkey without flattening. Shape the coil into a lowercase "e" shape and place in the roasting pan.
Preparing the Oven & Aromatics
- Lower the oven rack to the bottom, or second from the bottom. This helps it roast in the center of the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Rub Kosher salt in the cavity before placing the quartered onion, carrots, and celery leaves inside. These vegetables will flavor the it from the inside, but will be thrown out after it's roasted. Crumple up a piece of aluminum foil to cover the cavity opening.
- For ease, leave it un-trussed.
- Rub the skin all over with softened butter. Make sure it is dry otherwise the butter won't stick. Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper to help add extra flavor.
- Using kitchen twine, cross the legs and tie the drumstick ends tightly together, then bring the twine under the wings to lift them up higher so they can brown better. Tie the twine in a knot at the neck opening. If you prefer, tuck the wings under the body, for a more compact look.
- Pour 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock into the roasting pan.
- Place it uncovered in the oven with the drumsticks facing the back.
- Decrease the oven temperature from the preheat temperature of 400 F to 350 F.
- Roast the turkey for 1 1/2 hours. Using a turkey baster or big spoon, baste the drippings all over the turkey. Do this at the 1 1/2 hour mark and every 30 minutes afterward until it's done. Each time it's basted, place the drumsticks facing the left one time then the right the next time. Don't put the breast facing the back of the oven as it will dry out the meat. A 14-pound turkey would be basted for a maximum of 5 times: 1 1/2 hours, 2 hours, 2 1/2 hours, 3 hours and when it comes out of the oven. If the turkey is browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil.
- Roast the turkey for 13 minutes per pound. A 14-pound turkey will take just over 3 hours. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature in the deepest part of the thigh away from any bones. The temperature should read 165 F, and the juices should be clear when the thermometer is pulled out.
- Save the pan juices to make homemade giblet gravy.
Resting the Turkey
- Let the turkey rest, breast side up, on a large cutting board with grooves or on a large tray with sides for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Tent the turkey loosely with foil. When it rests, the internal temperature will continue to rise to 170 F. The resting time allows the juices to redistribute, so the turkey will be more moist. The turkey will release juices onto the cutting board during this time. Tent it loosely with foil to keep it warm.
- Carve the turkey in this order: drumsticks, thighs, breasts, wings. Don't keep the cooked turkey at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers. Keep the bones for turkey stock, bone broth, or turkey soup.
- Before roasting, let the turkey warm up to room temperature for 30-60 minutes.
- To flavor the meat from the inside out, rub with salt and pepper and stuff with aromatics.
- For crispy, golden skin, rub the dry turkey all over with butter and kosher salt.
- Brush with melted butter or baste the turkey with the pan juices.
- Let the juices redistribute, by tenting the bird with foil and let it rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour before carving.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Roasted
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: roasted turkey, Thanksgiving